Egged At Starke!

September 11, 1999

On Saturday, we all met at the Burger King in Starke, and welcomed our out of state visitors, Sherry Sweeny from Alabama, and Heath Wintz from Ohio.

After breakfast, we proceeded together, in nine vehicles, including Dennis Watkins', the Doobie Tosser's infamous Hempmobile, to the flat landscape on State Route 16 to the prison complex. We lined our vehicles up along the prison entrance and began unloading our signs.

It hadn't been five minutes when the staff from New River began to converge on us as we were attempting to set up our tent in the unruly wind that always blows at Starke. We were ordered, urged and then asked, just like last time, to leave and, just like the last time, we politely declined.

Our refusal to follow orders greatly disturbs prison officials, guards, and cops and you could see it on their faces. They became extremely polite with the cameras and our holding our ground and all. It was our moment of triumph when they turned on their heels and disappeared back into the building.

We continued our vigil with Scott Bledsoe on his well-used bullhorn, convicted marijuana patient, Joe Tacl lying on his mat on the grass, and the rest of us holding our signs and flyers as Merlie and Anne Tacl filmed our efforts.

But, the prison officials hadn't given up...just about the time it became boring, two Bradford county sheriff cars drove up. Although I did not record their names, they were wearing Sheriff badge #626 and #865. As they gathered in a huddle across the road, we peacefully continued our activities. We watched as their circle was enlarged to include three State Trooper vehicles (Two Liscense plates FHP1958 and FHP725).

Finally, a couple of men in business suits joined them, and we were approached by the entire group. Colonel Davis did the talking, hemhawing, and stammering about why we couldn't be there. We told the troopers that we had checked and there were no ordinances against anything we were doing. We explained that the right of way by the road belongs to the public and that it was our right to be there. Scott suggested they read the first amendment.

When they saw our resolution, they then asked if we would compromise by moving the vehicles down under the trees and please, could we not use the bullhorn. It was hot and we didn't mind putting the cars under the trees where death penalty activists think they have to hold their vigils, and we agreed to hold off on the bullhorn until we checked with our attorney, Gary Eddinger.

They realized this was all the cooperation we were going to give, so they scowled at our cameraman and stomped off towards the prison. Another successful flexing of our first amendment muscles had succeeded.

It only took them long enough to teach Officer J.B. Williams how to use a video camera, before the lone officer returned with video camera in hand to film our vigil.

Well, being the bold and rightfully indignant people we are, we began to speak into the camera, introducing ourselves and explaining what had brought us to Starke individually and collectively.

Our cameraman, Merlie, began to film the cameraman filming us, and Officer Williams turned his camera to film Merlie filming him. Talk about perfect timing, At that precise moment Pete Brady from Cannabis Culture Magazine strode across the lawn in his always beautiful hemp clothes and began snapping pictures of the "dueling cameras."

All in all it was entertaining and I might say, unnerving to Officer Williams. We'll have to file a freedom of information act request to get a copy of that film to add to our own footage.

The normal townsfolk drove by, shooting us the old finger and hollering for us to "Go home...We don't need you here." But, we're used to that. They are protecting their own, I suppose, but it still depresses me a bit to know they do not want the truth.

So, after a few hours, we gather our stuff to leave, and as we are picking up the last of the largest signs that was located closest to the cars, we had to stop and laugh while Pete Brady took pictures of our dripping STATE OF FLORIDA MURDERERS sign....


We considered it a telling moment in the history of our vigil. And we are more determined than ever now.....We will be back......

Kay Lee

Local Florida Protestors:

Kay ‘Grandma’ Lee, Key West

Kevin Aplin, C.A.N. Gainesville

Scott Bledsoe, Jacksonville

Jodi James, Melbourne

Glen Allen, Ft. Lauderdale

Bill Gallagher, Thonotosassa


Sherry Swiney, Director,

PATRICK Crusade from Alabama

Heath Wintz,

For A Better Ohio


Anne and Joe Tacl

Bronson, FL


Pete Brady,

Cannabis Culture Magazine




Fort Ganja

Anne Tacl


Officer J.B. Williams

New River Correctional


Prison Cast:

On duty Colonel Davis from New River

Two Bradford County Sheriff’s Dept.

Three State Troopers

Several Prison Staff,

Including Cameraman, Officer J.B. Williams


The vigil was an exciting example of citizens exercising their first amendment rights to the fullest. The hurricane scare has stopped all grayhound buses from Miami to Key West, so the story will be written as soon as I can get home. Kay Lee

Drums At Starke